For three years running—2011, 2012, and 2013—Columbia Metropolitan magazine has declared Gervais & Vine's wine list the city's best. What earned it the distinction is simple: globe-spanning variety. Its menu hosts everything from California's 2011 J. Lohr pinot noir to South Africa's Spice Route “Chakalaka” and Germany's Dr. L Riesling, which completed medical school during its fermentation. All told, more than 40 wines by the glass fill the list, complementing the Mediterranean-inspired tapas of head chef Jason Holowacz.
When crafting his entrees, Holowacz focuses on pairing. Dishes range from the Spanish flavors of grilled shrimp to Italian favorites such as pizza with goat cheese and herb-infused olive oil, allowing guests to experiment with their white or red selections. For pointers, periodic winemaker dinners and wine tastings cover different varietals and their best edible matches. And while guests sip and sup, inside or on the outdoor patio, Gervais & Vine entertains their ears every Wednesday and Thursday night with live jazz.
At Walks in History, 1-mile tours are based on stories from the books Haunted Charleston and Haunted Harbor by authors Geordie Buxton and Ed Macy. The 90-minute Pirate and Haunted History tour tracks the fading footsteps of Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet, Anne Bonney, and Mary Read through the cobblestone streets and bastion walls of the Old Walled City. Making pit stops at six to eight haunts, the guides unravel tales regarding pirate hangings, Fort Sumter and the Pink House, where Blackbeard once shot rum and drunk dialed former first mates.
The 90-minute Supernatural Charleston Ghost Tour ventures into the murky twilight like a darkness-starved vampire bat after the summer solstice. As the expert guides snake through six to eight stops, they shed light on ghostly activity at sites such as the Old Citadel, a Revolutionary War burial ground, and the remains of the Charleston Orphan Asylum.
In six locations around the Charleston area, King Street Grille rolls out upscale pub fare and a few dozen flat-screen televisions. Full of contemporary versions of traditional bar favorites, the menu unfolds to reveal mac ?n? cheese egg rolls, nine types of grilled, hand-formed burgers, and plates weighed down with comforting entrees, such as pork chops and Chicken Madeira. The bar stocks more than 100 beers and its own line of liquor to wash down meals or offer as gifts to the thirsty actors who reenact big games inside the TV. Throughout the week, the eatery pairs good food with good times by transforming its space into a venue for trivia nights, billiards, and live music.
Manhattan's Bar & Lounge pairs savory personal pizzas with cold pours in a lively sports-bar atmosphere. Dining duos square off with a house salad, testing plate-to-mouth speed with crisp bites of romaine adorned by shredded cheese and bacon, then dappled with crunchy sunflower seeds. Chefs induce jealousy in stick figures with a pair of 9-inch classic-crusted pies or ultra-thin-crust pizzas gussied up with two meats or veggies such as italian sausage and artichokes. Meals are escorted to gastrointestinal glory with two draft beers or sodas before patrons saunter over to a pool table or the Wii for friendly competition. Diners can also sharpen their vocal skills at the karaoke mike. The bar's assortment of TVs regularly shows football games, whose scores multiply into the millions after being reflected through the tiny mirrors on the centrally located disco ball.
The wine pours freely and the beer bubbles over frosty pint glasses at Grape and Grains, a family-operated homebrew and wine retailer that couples an appreciation for fine craftsmanship with a DIY approach. Owners Kenny and Janel Anderson—enthusiastic experts in hops and wine, respectively—have combined their passions into an enterprise that is one part supply shop and one part educational hub. As Janel presides over the wine bar and teaches classes in wine making, Kenny leads excursions into the complex world of home brewing, showing off the various hop varieties of IPAs and the tears of ousted MPs that give English ales their signature bitterness. The couple share their zeal for spirits with all comers at least 21 years of age, granting members of Grape and Grains' beer and wine club a 10% discount and military vets a 20% discount on products and classes.
The Red Pepper is an Italian eatery with rich roots. Owner Fred White first learned the ropes of the restaurant business at his grandmother's Italian restaurant in Rochester, New York, mastering the art of crafting sweets and savories from fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, basil, and ricotta cheese. He went on to open lauded eateries across the country, then settled with his family in the Charleston area and opened The Red Pepper in Summerville. Here, locals relish hoagies, pizzas, and other sumptuous New York?style Italian food. Red umbrellas and baskets of flowers dot an outdoor patio, drawing diners into the fresh air for alfresco meals and drinks.
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